NEWMAN/HAAS RACING DRIVERS SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS AND BRUNO JUNQUEIRA LOOK TO TRIPLE UP ON VICTORIES AT THIS WEEKEND'S GRAND PRIX OF DENVER SPONSORED BY BRIDGESTONE INDIANAPOLIS (August 9, 2006) - The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series...
NEWMAN/HAAS RACING DRIVERS SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS AND BRUNO JUNQUEIRA LOOK TO TRIPLE UP ON VICTORIES AT THIS WEEKEND'S GRAND PRIX OF DENVER SPONSORED BY BRIDGESTONE
INDIANAPOLIS (August 9, 2006) - The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford has competed four times on the streets on Denver, Colorado but one only needs to make a single stop in the paddock to talk to the men that hold the quartet of Denver trophies.
Newman/Haas Racing pilots Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) have split the previous four Denver events between them, and will look to break the tie this weekend as the series heads to the Mile High City for the Grand Prix of Denver Sponsored by Bridgestone. Both drivers have three Denver starts on their resumes and each has a pair of wins and a second-place finish to their credit. Junqueira won the inaugural event in 2002 (with then-Champ Car competitor Target Chip Ganassi Racing) and 2003, and has led at least 39 laps in each of his previous three starts. Bourdais has back-to-back wins in 2004 and 05, pacing the last 35 laps a year ago to take the victory.
Bourdais heads into Denver as the series points leader, as he has been all season, having stretched his lead to 31 points over Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) with his win two weeks ago in San Jose. A model of consistency, Bourdais has finished on the podium in eight of his nine starts this year. His career total of 32 podium finishes is 20th on the all-time list, tying him with Jimmy Bryan. A similar finish this weekend in Denver would move him into a tie for 18th with Dario Franchitti and PKV Racing co-owner Jimmy Vasser.
But while two men have shared all of the Mile High wins , there are a number of drivers in the field that had a good bit of success of their own in the four-year history of the event, and all are looking to end the Newman/Haas reign of terror in Denver. Six of the drivers in the field for this year's event have Denver podium finishes to their credit, and three-quarters of the field have been battle-tested on the 1.657-mile Denver street course either in Champ Cars or in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship.
RuSPORT's Wilson will call on two years of Denver experience as he stalks Bourdais for the championship lead, looking to stay within reach of the points leader as the season hits the homestretch. Wilson, who leads the series in laps completed and is the current leader for the Bridgestone Passion For Excellence Award, is one of the few veterans that has yet to have much luck in Denver. He started a strong fifth a year ago but was caught up in a first-lap accident that left him 17th. Wilson will also be working without a teammate for the first time in his Champ Car career after stablemate Cristiano da Matta (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) suffered serious injuries in a testing accident at Elkhart Lake. The team has withdrawn the #10 machine for this race, also marking the first time that RuSPORT has competed with just a single car in a Champ Car event, having run two cars in each race since its 2004 series debut.
Former RuSPORT shoe and current RACER magazine cover boy A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is the only other driver in the show within hailing distance of Bourdais, sitting just 45 points in arrears to the two-time defending champion. Allmendinger remains as the only driver to qualify in the top four of every event this season, and has earned top-eight finishes in each of the last eight races. He knows his way around the Denver course as well, having placed in the top five every time he has run on the nine-turn layout. He scored a win from pole in 2003 on his way to the Champ Car Atlantic title and snared a podium position last season with a third-place finish.
Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) earned his first Denver pole a year ago and appeared to have the field covered as he led a race-high 59 laps, but the Canadian star ended his day in 16th place after making an uncharacteristic miscue. The setback was the first for Tracy in Denver as he had finished eighth or better in the previous three races in the Colorado capital. His 99 laps led are second only to Junqueira in event history and Champ Car's winningest active driver will be looking for a strong points run to make up for a San Jose incident that cost him seven championship points, having been docked those precious points by Champ Car for unjustified risk on the track.
Mario Dominguez (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) leads his Dale Coyne Racing squad into battle, looking to maintain his grip on the fourth spot in the points queue. The Mexican veteran is the only driver in the history of the Denver event to run all four Champ Car races and improve his finishing position every year. However, the only way Dominguez can continue that streak is by visiting Victory Lane this year as the 2002 Rookie-of-the-Year winner came home a strong second a year ago after starting third.
Oriol Servia (#6 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has sparked PKV Racing's resurgence in the last month, climbing from out of the top 10 into a tie for sixth. Qualifying success has been a catalyst as the veteran has started fifth or better in each of the last four events, with three of those starting spots being turned into top-eight results. Servia has been strong in Denver as well, finishing sixth or better in each of his last three starts. More remarkable is the fact that he has achieved these results with three different teams (Patrick Racing, '03, Dale Coyne Racing, '04 and Newman/Haas Racing last year), and looks to make it four straight as leads his new PKV squad to the front.
Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) continues to widen his lead even further in this year's Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year battle, matching a career-best for the second consecutive race when he finished sixth in San Jose. The Australian driver is just three points of a top-10 spot in the season standings and has a 25-point gap in the rookie points over Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing - HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Clarke continues to shows flashes of brilliance and was running a competitive second in San Jose before a mechanical failure ended his run. His ninth-place qualifying run gave him his best street-course grid spot of the year but he now heads to a Denver track that neither he nor Power have ever seen.
Nelson Philippe (#4 Wellbox Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) impressed as well in San Jose as the CTE Racing - HVM youngsters build on their recent run of success. Philippe came from 11th on the grid to finish fourth in San Jose, vaulting back into the top 10 in the season standings. The 20-year-old showed last year that he knows how to make up ground on the Denver course as well, taking the checkered flag in ninth after starting his day in the 15th position.
Charles Zwolsman (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will bank on last year's Champ Car Atlantic experience to aid him as he looks to extend a personal-best streak of three consecutive top-10 finishes. The Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing pilot finished third a year ago in Denver on his way to the Atlantic title, taking the podium spot after gridding in the third spot. His teammate Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) continues to cling to the top five in points despite not having a top-five finish through nine races. The Canadian prodigy had his string of eight straight race finishes ended by contact with Katherine Legge (#20 Gulfstream/Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in San Jose but he continues to make improvements in his qualifying pace, starting in the top eight in each of the last three events.
Rocketsports Racing rookie Nicky Pastorelli (#8 Bavaria City Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Dale Coyne Racing first-year driver Jan Heylen (#11 Muermans Group Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will be seeing the Denver layout for the first time this weekend but are carrying a bit of momentum with them on their maiden voyages to Colorado. Pastorelli earned his second top-10 finish of the year by gaining seven positions in San Jose while Heylen made up five spots to finish 11th. Heylen is fifth in the rookie points but is just 10 digits out of second.
This weekend's Grand Prix of Denver Sponsored by Bridgestone can be seen live Sunday, August 13 on SPEED beginning at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. As always, fans can follow the action from every on-track session via the Race Director feature on the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcar.ws.